Category Archives: Protests

In the Eye of the Eagle: From Strict Catholic School to Adventures in Rainforests

A slow, tacking flight: float then flap. Then a pirouette and it has swung on to a different tack, following another seam through the moor as if it is tracking a scent. It is like a disembodied spirit searching for its host…” — description of the strongest of all harriers, the goshawk, by James Macdonald Lockhart in his book, Raptor: A Journey Through Birds

We’re watching a female red-tail hawk rejecting the smaller male’s romantic overtures barely 50 yards overhead.

There it is. Ahh, the male has full extension. So does his girlfriend. I see this every day from here. This courting ritual . . . testing each other’s loyalty. Watching them in a talon lock, spiraling down, now that’s an amazing sight.

I’m with Chris Hatten on his 10 acres overlooking the Siletz estuary along a gravel road. Saying he lives for that typical red-tail hawk behavior would be an understatement. His passion for raptors has taken him to many parts of the globe, and those trips involved exhilaration, danger, risks to his life, and the trials and tribulations of living primitively in tropical zones which Westerners sometimes deridingly call undeveloped countries or third world nations.

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 Wild Harpy eagle being recaptured and treated after being shot in leg, northern Guatemala.

We are traipsing around his property where Chris is ninety percent finished with a two-story 1,400 square foot home, a modern efficient house he’s been building for two years from a kit out of Lynnwood, Washington.

He told me he’ll never do that again – building a full-sized house.

The 42-year-old Hatten got a hold of my name when he found out I write about Oregon coastal people with compellingly interesting lives. He is in the midst of witnessing adjoining land (more than a hundred acres) to his property about to be clear-cut – forested hillside owned by Hancock Timber Resource Group, part of John Hancock Insurance (now owned by a Canadian group, Manulife Financial).

When he first bought the land eight years ago, representatives of Hancock told him that the company had so much timberland it would take years, maybe a decade, to get to this piece of property.

We discuss how Lincoln City and Lincoln County might prevent a clear cut from the side of the hill all the way down to Highway 101. “It’s amazing to witness in this coastal area — that depends on tourism — all this land clear-cut as far as the eye can see.”

The red-tail hawk pair circles above us again, while a Merlin flits about alighting on a big Doug fir.

When he first saw the property — an old homestead which was once a producing dairy farm — Chris said two eagles cawed above where he was standing, which for a bird-man is a positive omen and spiritual sign of good health. He calls his place “The Double-Eagle.”

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Hands on bio blitz Northern Brazil.

Non-Traditional Student Backpacks into Jungles

He’s not living in the house, per se, but rather he has a tent he calls home. “I feel suffocated inside four walls. I want to hear animals, hear the wind, be on the ground.” He’s hoping to rent out the house.

His current kip is set up near a black bear den, where mother bruin and her two cubs share an area he is willing to stay away from. “The mother bear and I have an understanding. We don’t bother each other.”

He’s part Doctor Dolittle, part Jim Fowler (from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom), and part John Muir. My own intersections with blokes and women around the world like him have put me eye-to-eye with pygmy elephants in Vietnam, great hammerheads off Baja, king cobras in Thailand, schools of barracudas off Honduras, and a pack of 20 javelina chasing me along the Arizona-Mexico border.

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Jaguar rescue northern Belize.

Hatten’s wildlife adventures indeed take it up a few notches.

“When I finished high school, I wanted to follow my dreams.” That was at Saint Mary’s in Salem, a school that was so constricting to Chris he had already been saving up dollars for a one-way ticket out of the country.

He had started working young – aged 8 – picking zucchini and broccoli in fields near where his family of six lived. “You feel invincible when you are young. You’re also more adaptable and more resilient.”

He ended up in Malaysia which then turned into trekking throughout Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, East Timor, and even down south to Darwin, Australia.

Those two years, from age 17 to 19, are enough to fill two thick memoirs. Upon returning to Salem, he applied to the National Park service and bought a one-way ticket to Alaska, working the trails in small groups who lived in tents and cleared trails with 19-Century equipment – saws, shovels, picks, pry bars.

With his cash stake growing, he headed back south, by mountain bike, along the Prudhoe-Dalton Highway. He hit Prince George, Vancouver Island, and stopped in the Olympics.

He then worked summers and attended Chemeketa College in Salem.

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Finding small spot fire Colombia River Gorge, Oregon, working for U.S.F.S.

Homeless-but-inspired at Evergreen State College

He wanted to study temperature rainforests, so he showed up unannounced hoping for an audience with a well-known scientist and faculty member — Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, who is an expert in temperate forests and sap maples. Chris had read the book she co-authored, Forest Canopies.

Before showing up to Evergreen, Chris had developed a sling-shot contraption to propel ropes into forest canopy. He barged into Nadkarni’s office with his invention. She was surprised Chris wasn’t already student, but she quickly made sure he enrolled in the environmental studies program.

Spending his last dollar on tuition, Chris resorted to sleeping in a tent and inside his 1988 Honda Civic while using campus rec department showers. He told me he received free produce on Tuesdays when the farmer’s market would pass out vegetables and fruit after a day’s sales.

Another faculty member, Dr. Steve Herman, motivated Chris to really delve into ornithology. Chris recalls coastal dune ecology trips, from Olympia in motor pool vans, all the way into the southern reaches of Baja. “We looked at every dune system from Baja all the way back north to Florence.”

The ornithologist Herman was also a tango aficionado, and Chris recalled the professor announcing to his students many times, in the middle of dunes in Mexico, it was time for some tango lessons. “He told us there was more to life than just science.”

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Educational Harpy eagle to take into classrooms Panama city, Panama, has one blind eye, could not be released into wild.

Adventures and Misadventures of a Bird Fanatic

My life’s work has been to produce scientists who will seek to protect wildness. But I also just really enjoy teaching people about birds. I’ve been lucky to get to do that for a very long time.

— Steve Herman, Evergreen State College faculty emeritus Steve Herman, 2017

Chris laments the lack of real stretches of wilderness in Oregon, most notably along our coast. These are postage stamp areas, he emphasizes, around Drift Creek, Rock Creek, Cape Perpetua, but “it’s abysmal.”

We have the Cascades in Washington and the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, and lots of wilderness in Alaska. But really, nothing along the Pacific in Oregon.

After camping in the forest around Evergreen College, Chris still had the travel bug bad. On one foray, he went to Thailand, studying the mangrove forests there. He traveled with Thai army anti-poaching teams who went after poachers. He came across poachers’ camps, witnessed firefights and saw a few poachers laid out dead. “The captain gave me a pistol and one bullet. He said the torture would be so bad if I got captured by tiger poachers that I’d beg for a bullet.”

He’s worked on the island of Hawaii with the USGS focusing on a biocomplexity project looking at how mosquitoes are moving higher and higher because of global warming. The consequences are pretty connected to other invasives – pigs introduced to the islands several centuries ago – disturbing the entire natural ecosystem.

Pigs chew down the ferns, and places that have never seen pooled water before are now wet troughs where mosquitoes can now breed.

Those insects carry avian malaria, and alas, endangered honey creepers can’t adjust to the mosquitoes like their cousins elsewhere who have evolved over millennia to just rub off the insects. The honey creeper is being decimated by this minor but monumental change.

Peregrine Fund

Right after matriculating from Evergreen with a bachelor’s of science, Chris ended up in Panama, working throughout Central America rehabilitating, breeding and introducing Harpy Eagles – the biggest forest eagle in the world with a wingspan of six and a half feet – into their native jungle habitat.

These are massive birds. They dwarf our American bald eagle, for sure. My job was to follow them when the fledglings were grown and released.

He acted like an adult Harpy who catches prey and puts it in the trees for the youngster to eat and learn some hunting skills. Frozen rats, GPS backpack transmitter fashioned on the birds, and orienteering throughout Belize and Southern Mexico were his tools.

It sort of blew me away that here I was living the dream of studying birds in a rainforest.

Territorial ranges for these birds spread into Honduras and south to Colombia. Wild Harpies eat sloth, aunt eaters, howler monkeys, even giant Military Macaws.

He ended up in the Petén, Tikal (originally dating back 2000 years), one of Central America’s premier Mayan archeological and tourist sites.

His role was to study the orange-breasted falcon, a tropical raptor which is both endangered and stealth. “We got to live on top of pyramids off limits to anyone else,” he says, since the bird was using the pyramids as nesting and breeding grounds.

He recalled tiring of the tourists down below repeating the fact that one of the Star Wars movies was filmed here – “I got tired of hearing, ‘Wow, is this really where Yavin 4,  A New Hope, was filmed? We’re really here.’”

Imagine respecting this ancient Mayan capital, and studying amazing raptors as the antithesis of goofy tourista comments.

No 9 to 5 Working Stiff

He tells me that his idols are people like Jane Goodall and David Attenborough. While he went to school in a conservative Catholic setting where his peers were mostly farm kids —  and some were already pregnant and married (before graduation), his family was not of the same stripe.

“We were like the people in the movie ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’’’ he says with a laugh. His parents took the brood to the Oregon Coast a lot, and that 1976 yellow VW van’s starter was always going out. “I remember we had my sister and mom blocking the intersections in places like Lincoln City while we pushed the van to get it started.”

He’s got a brother, Steve, an RN in Portland, and another Portland-based brother, Mark, owner of a micro-car shop. His older sister, Amy, is a newspaper journalist in Grand Junction, Colorado – a real lifer, with the written word coursing through her blood. She’s encouraged Chris to write down his story.

Their mother went to UC-Berkley, and has been a public education teacher for over 25 years. Their father (divorced when he was 12) got into real estate but is now living in New Zealand.

That one-way ticket to Singapore that got him into Southeast Asia, ended with him running out of money after a year, but he was able to get to Darwin, Australia, by paying a fishing boat in East Timor to get him down under illegally. He spent time picking Aussie Chardonnay grapes to stake himself in order to see that continent.

He was blown away by the kangaroo migration, a scene that involved a few million ‘roos kicking up great clouds of red dust. He ended up going through Alice Springs to see the sacred Uluru (formally known as Ayers Rock). He met undocumented immigrants from El Salvador and Greece while making money picking oranges.

We talk about some frightening times in our travels, and per usual, the worst incidents involved criminals or bad hombres, not with wildlife. For Chris, his close call with death occurred in Guatemala where he, his female supervisor (a Panamanian) and another raptor specialist were confronted by men on horses, brandishing machetes and leading tracker dogs.

“’We’ll let you live if you give us the woman.’ That’s what they gave us as our option.” The bird team went back into the jungle, the two male researchers buried their female companion with leaves, and then Chris and the other guy took off running all night long.

The banditos chased them through the jungle. He laughed saying they ran virtually blind in places where eyelash vipers (one bite, and three steps and you’re dead), coral snakes and tropical rattlesnakes lived in abundance.

“It’s a very creepy feeling being hunted by men with dogs.” Luckily, the female team member headed out the opposite direction, with a radio. All in a day’s work for environmentalists.

That’s saying, “all in a day’s work,” is ominous since we both talk about how most indigenous and local environmental leaders in so many countries have been murdered by loggers, miners, oil men, ranchers, and coca processors (many times executed by paid-for military soldiers).

Never Return or There Will Be Tears

Two telling quotes from world-renown traveler and writer, Paul Theroux, strike me as apropos for a story about Chris Hatten:

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.

You go away for a long time and return a different person – you never come all the way back.

We talk about a crackling campfire being the original TV, and how being out in wilderness with 5 or 10 people for an extended period gets one really connected to working with people and counting on them to be friends and support.

“It’s tough going back to places I’ve been,” he says with great lamentation. In Borneo, a return trip years later discombobulated him. “The rainforest is being plowed over daily. I couldn’t tell where I was walking miles and miles through palm oil plantations. It was as if the jungle had been swallowed up.”

What once was a vibrant, multilayered super rich and diverse place of amazing flora and fauna has been turned into a virtual desert of a monocrop.

This reality is some of the once most abundant and ecologically distinct places on earth are no longer that. “This is the problem with any wildlife reintroduction program. You can breed captive animals like, for instance, the orangutan but there’s nowhere to release them. Everywhere is stripped of jungle, healthy habitat.”

The concept of rewilding any place is becoming more and more theoretical.

We climb the hill where the clear-cut will occur. Chris and I talk about a serious outdoor education center – a place where Lincoln County students could show up for one, two or three days of outdoor learning. We’re serious about reframing the role of schools and what youth need to have in order to be engaged and desirous of learning.

That theoretical school could be right here, with Chris as the lead outdoor/ecological instructor.

All those trees, terrestrial animals, avian creatures, smack dab on an estuary leading to a bay which leads to the Pacific is highly unique – and a perfect place from which to really get hands on learning as the core curriculum.

We imagine young people learning the history, geology, biology, and ecology of where they live. Elders in the woods teaching them how to smoke salmon, how to build a lean-to, how to see outside the frame of consumption/purchasing/screen-time.

Interestingly, while Chris has no desire to have children, he has taught tropical biology/ecology to an international student body at the Richmond Vale Academy on the island of Saint Vincent (part of the Grenadines).

Koreans, Russians, Venezuelans, Peruvians and Vincennes learned organic farming, bio-fuel production, solar power design, how to grow passion and star fruit. There is even a little horse program in the school, founded by two Danes.

Chris said that the local population is taught about medicinal plants, recycling and responsible waste disposal. “Everything used to be wrapped in banana leaves in their grandparents’ time. Now there is all this single-use plastic waste littering the island.

Like the dynamic rainforest that once carpeted the Central Coast – with herds of elk, wolves, grizzlies and myriad other species – much of the world is being bulldozed over, dammed and mined. Wildlife leave, stop breeding, never repopulate fractured areas where human activities are the norm.

But given that, when I asked Chris where he might like to go now, he mentioned Croatia, his mother’s side of the family roots. He may have swum with 60-foot-long whale sharks and kayaked over orcas, but Chris is still jazzed up about raptors – maybe he’d end up on the Croatian island of Cres which is a refuge for the spectacular griffon vulture.

“Nature has a purpose beyond anything an extraction-based society puts its monetary value on trees. We have to show young people there is value to natural ecosystems beyond extracting everything for a profit.”

One-Minute Q and A

Paul Haeder: What is your life philosophy?

Chris Hatten: Make the best use of your time. Time is short.

PH: How do we fix this extractive “resources” system that is so rapacious?

CH: We need to value forests for the many multitude of services they provide, not just quick rotations. Forests are not the same as fields of crops.

PH: Give any young person currently in high school, say, in Lincoln County, advice on what they might get out of life if they took your advice? What’s that advice?

CH: Get off your phone, lift up your head, see the world for yourself as it really is, then make necessary changes to it and yourself.

PH: What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve experienced — what, where, when, why, how?

CH: I have had very poor people offer to give me all they had in several different countries. Strangers have come to my aid with no thought of reward.

PH: In a nutshell, define the Timber Unity movement to say someone new to Oregon.

CH: They are people who mostly work in rural Oregon in resource extraction industries and believe they are forgotten.

PH: If you were to have a tombstone, what would be on it once you kick the bucket?

CH: “Lived.”

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Running in step, at sunset on the beach with horse St. Vincent and Grenadines

Neoliberalism’s Children Rise Up to Demand Justice in Chile and the World

Uprisings against the corrupt, generation-long dominance of neoliberal “center-right” and “center-left” governments that benefit the wealthy and multinational corporations at the expense of working people are sweeping country after country all over the world.

In this Autumn of Discontent, people from Chile, Haiti and Honduras to Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon are rising up against neoliberalism, which has in many cases been imposed on them by U.S. invasions, coups and other brutal uses of force. The repression against activists has been savage, with more than 250 protesters killed in Iraq in October alone, but the protests have continued and grown. Some movements, such as in Algeria and Sudan, have already forced the downfall of long-entrenched, corrupt governments.

A country that is emblematic of the uprisings against neoliberalism is Chile. On October 25, 2019, a million Chileans — out of a population of about 18 million — took to the streets across the country, unbowed by government repression that has killed at least 20 of them and injured hundreds more. Two days later, Chile’s billionaire president Sebastian Piñera fired his entire cabinet and declared, “We are in a new reality. Chile is different from what it was a week ago.”

The people of Chile appear to have validated Erica Chenoweth’s research on non-violent protest movements, in which she found that once over 3.5% of a population rise up to non-violently demand political and economic change, no government can resist their demands. It remains to be seen whether Piñera’s response will be enough to save his own job, or whether he will be the next casualty of the 3.5% rule.

It is entirely fitting that Chile should be in the vanguard of the protests sweeping the world in this Autumn of Discontent, since Chile served as the laboratory for the neoliberal transformation of economics and politics that has swept the world since the 1970s.

When Chile’s socialist leader Salvador Allende was elected in 1970, after a 6-year-long covert CIA operation to prevent his election, President Nixon ordered U.S. sanctions to “make the economy scream.”

In his first year in office, Allende’s progressive economic policies led to a 22% increase in real wages, as work began on 120,000 new housing units and he started to nationalize copper mines and other major industries. But growth slowed in 1972 and 1973 under the pressure of brutal U.S. sanctions, as in Venezuela and Iran today.

U.S. sabotage of the new government intensified, and on September 11th, 1973, Allende was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup. The new leader, General Augusto Pinochet, executed or disappeared at least 3,200 people, held 80,000 political prisoners in his jails and ruled Chile as a brutal dictator until 1990, with the full support of the U.S. and other Western governments.

Under Pinochet, Chile’s economy was submitted to radical “free market” restructuring by the “Chicago Boys,” a team of Chilean economics students trained at the University of Chicago under the supervision of Milton Friedman for the express purpose of conducting this brutal experiment on their country. U.S. sanctions were lifted and Pinochet sold off Chile’s public assets to U.S. corporations and wealthy investors. Their program of tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, together with privatization and cuts in pensions, healthcare, education and other public services, has since been duplicated across the world.

The Chicago Boys pointed to rising economic growth rates in Chile as evidence of the success of their neoliberal program, but by 1988, 48% of Chileans were living below the poverty line. Chile was and still is the wealthiest country in Latin America, but it is also the country with the largest gulf between rich and poor.

The governments elected after Pinochet stepped down in 1990 have followed the neoliberal model of alternating pro-corporate “center-right” and “center-left” governments, as in the U.S. and other developed countries. Neither respond to the needs of the poor or working class, who pay higher taxes than their tax-evading bosses, on top of ever-rising living costs, stagnant wages and limited access to voucherized education and a stratified public-private healthcare system. Indigenous communities are at the very bottom of this corrupt social and economic order. Voter turnout has predictably declined from 95% in 1989 to 47% in the most recent presidential election in 2017.

If Chenoweth is right and the million Chileans in the street have breached the tipping point for successful non-violent popular democracy, Chile may be leading the way to a global political and economic revolution.

Scott Morrison’s Authoritarian Streak: Crushing Anti-Mining Protest in Australia

The Prime Minister of Australia is fuming.  Having made his mark on Australian politics by being the mining sector’s most avid defender, Scott Morrison was disturbed by the week’s events in Melbourne that saw clashes between police and protesters outside the sixth annual international mining and resources conference.

It made sense for the protesters to kick up a fuss at the big ticket event.  IMARC, as the site states, “is where the global mining leaders connect with technology, finance and the future.  It is Australia’s largest mining event bringing together over 7,000 decision makers, mining leaders, policy makers, investors, commodity buyers, technical experts, innovators and educators from over 100 countries to Melbourne for four days of learning, deal-making and unparalleled networking.”

The welcoming note from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was enthusiastic and distinctly not green in colouring.  This was a chance to celebrate what Australians do best; no, not sustainable energy, nor technologies of ecological soundness, but boast “world class talent in the resources field”, “a sector that continues to grow and provide jobs for many Victorians, especially in country areas.” The Australian economy was inseparable from the resources sector, “creating jobs and driving investment”.

An ideal opportunity had presented itself for climate change protesters who converged on the Melbourne Convention Centre.  By the third day, the patience of the cordoning police had worn thin.  The blood was rushing, the red haze had descended.  Batons and capsicum spray were deployed.  Over sixty protesters were arrested.  “I haven’t seen this kind of aggression before,” observed Emma Black, a self-proclaimed seasoned veteran of the protest scene.  Channel 7 journalist Paul Dowsley was more than bemused by being jostled by officers.  “Incredible. I was obeying their direction to move to another area.  I’m stunned.”

The response from Victoria Police was dismissive: “In this case, the reporter involved did not follow police instructions to move away from the area.  This was a safety issue and Victoria Police believes an appropriate amount of force was used to move the reporter from the area.”

On Thursday, the anti-mining protesters turned their attention to the PwC’s Southbank offices.  The conduct on the part of officers preventing disruptions to arriving delegates had been zealous enough to pique the interest of the Professional Standards Committee.  In the words of a police spokesman, “Protesters have raised several concerns in relation to the police response during the protest.  These concerns have been noted and are being assessed by our Professional Standards Committee.”

A sense about where that investigation will go can be gathered by the next remark.  “A number of groups have engaged in more deliberate tactics including blocking disabled access… and ignored police directions.  These protesters have been dealt with swiftly and effectively by the police.”

Another police statement addressing the second day of the blockade stressed that, “Whilst we respect the rights of people to peacefully protest, the unlawful action taken today is a drain on police resources from across the greater Melbourne.

The protesters proved sufficiently disruptive for Prime Minister Morrison to suggest a dark force at work: the “Quiet Australian”, that fictional confection he never tires of, is under siege.  But what from?

In a speech to the Queensland Resources Council on Friday, Morrison suggested that a “new breed of radical activism” was harrying those in mining and businesses associated with it. “I am very concerned about this new form of progressivism… intended to get in under the radar but [which] at its heart would deny the liberties of Australians.”  This breed of activism was “apocalyptic in tone, brooks no compromise, all or nothing, alternative views not permitted – a dogma that pits cities against regional Australia, one that cannot resist sneering at wealth creating and job creating industries, and the livelihoods particularly of regional Australians including here in Queensland.”  The wedge politician par excellence.

Morrison was a touch too keen to inflate the level of threat posed by such groups, who are “targeting businesses of all sizes, including small businesses, like contracting businesses in regional Queensland.”  This was far more serious than a “street protest”.  (The distinction in Australian law and policy is rarely made, in any case.)

His suggestion was as simple as it was authoritarian: protesters seeking to disrupt the chain of supply should be punished as saboteurs.  They, he stressed, were the undemocratic ones, the silencers.  His government, he explained on Melbourne radio 3AW, had “already taken action against their cousins who want to invade farms and we put legislation through to protect our farmers from that type of economic vandalism.”  Instead of taking credit for having sparked interest in such protests, indifferent as he is to those obscene and rarely said words “climate change”, he was going to take credit for crushing the dissent, putting the outrage to bed.

It was enough to disturb Katharine Murphy of The Guardian. “As he rails against activism, Scott Morrison is turning a bit sinister, a bit threatening.” The prime minister had treated Australians to a spectacle of complaint “against intolerance while in the same breath foreshadowing his own bout of government sanctioned intolerance – the type where police might be involved, and people might be bundled away in vans.”

As in other countries where fossil fuels and natural resources reign, Australia is hamstrung, an aspiring banana republic in the deceptive guise of a first world country.  Environmental pressure to alter their influence is not just seen as a matter of dissent but a threat.  To go green is to turn gangrenous.  To worry about environmental ruin and human causes is to be, in Morrison’s view, “indulgent and selfish” rather than responsible and cognisant.  A true upending of logic, and a potentially imperilling one.  Rather than confronting it, Morrison’s solution is drawn from the tradition and precedent of history: to protect resource industries, call in the police.

Ongoing Haiti Revolt targets Canada

Haiti is the site of the most sustained popular uprising among many that are currently sweeping the globe. It’s also the most explicitly anti-imperialist, which is part of the reason why it has received the least coverage.

For six weeks much of Port-au-Prince has been shuttered in the longest in a series of strikes since the revolt began 15 months ago. There have been innumerable mass protests by diverse social sectors calling for president Jovenel Moïse to go.

Last week protesters reportedly threw rocks at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince. On Friday Radio Canada’s Luc Chartrand highlighted the widespread hostility towards the US and Canada: “The walls of Port-au-Prince are covered with graffiti against the UN and also against what everyone here knows as the ‘Core Group’, a group of donor countries, including Canada, the United States, European Union and the Organization of American States, without the support of which no Haitian president can remain in office long. During protests it is common to see people disparaging foreigners and symbols of their presence such as hotels.”

While Haitians have repeatedly criticized Canadian policy over the past 15 years, the Radio Canada report was a rare event in the dominant media. But the intensity of the popular uprising has been making it harder to ignore. The other reason is activism in Canada, an imperial centre. Solidarité Quebec-Haïti #Petrochallenge 2019 founder Marie Dimanche and I met Chartrand and a Radio Canada colleague before they left for Haiti and sent them critical information. They wanted to hear our point of view because Solidarité Quebec-Haïti has aggressively criticized Canada’s role in Haiti by among other means occupying Justin Trudeau’s electoral campaign office.

Since detailing some of Solidarité Québec-Haïti’s bold actions that generated coverage three weeks ago in “Canadian imperialism in Haiti in the spotlight” the group held a press conference covered by CTV and a rally at Trudeau’s office covered by Global, TVA and other news outlets. We also attempted to disrupt Trudeau’s final election rally, which prompted Radio Canada to describe 10 of us chanting “Canada out of Haiti”. At this point no Canadian journalist covering Haiti can reasonably claim to be unaware that there is criticism of Ottawa’s policy towards that country.

Adding weight to Solidarité Québec-Haïti’s criticism, 150 writers, musicians, professors and activists recently signed an “open letter calling on the Canadian government to stop backing a corrupt, repressive and illegitimate Haitian president”. The signatories include David Suzuki, Roger Waters, Linda McQuaig, Amir Khadir, Will Prosper, Tariq Ali, Michele Landsberg and Yann Martel.

In another sign of dissent, the Concertation pour Haïti, a collection of mostly government funded NGOs who were cheerleaders of Canada/Quebec’s important role in violently ousting Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government in 2004, has called for a transitional government. Last week’s statement noted:  Haiti is at a pivotal moment. The current government is decried by the overwhelming majority of the population. Nearly all civil society groups have spoken out for the departure of Jovenel Moïse. …. However, the current government seems to have the full support of the international community … We invite Canada to make the right choice and use its influence in the international community to support” a presidential transition.

Despite growing challenges to its policy, Ottawa seems to be staying the course. On Wednesday a new Canadian ambassador was accredited at the national palace and reportedly “renewed Canada’s commitment to continue to accompany President Jovenel Moïse in his efforts to improve the living conditions of his people.” Earlier in the month the government put out an outrageous, if correct, travel advisory, warning Canadians that Haitian “police have used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse crowds.” Apart from this message to Canadians, the government has yet to directly criticize the killing of Haitian demonstrators by a police force that Canada has funded, trained and backed diplomatically since the 2004 coup. On October 15 the UN estimated at least 30 Haitians had been killed since mid-September. Most of them were likely killed by police.

Beyond its involvement with a repressive police force, Canada has provided financial and diplomatic backing to the neo-Duvalerist criminals subjugating Haiti’s impoverished masses. Two weeks ago Le Devoir reported that Canada has given $702 million in “aid” to Haiti since 2016. In February international development minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, who travelled to Haiti on multiple occasions, said “Haiti is one of the biggest development programs we have. Our ambassador in Port-au-Prince is in constant contact with the government.”

The Canadian Embassy has put out a stream of statements defending Moïse (though they are becoming softer). Amidst the general strike in February Bibeau was asked by TVA, “the demonstrators demand the resignation of the president. What is Canada’s position on this issue?” She responded by attacking the popular revolt: “The violence must stop; we will not come to a solution in this way.” But the violence is overwhelmingly meted it out by the Canadian backed regime.

At that time Canadian special forces were quietly deployed to the Port-au-Prince airport. The Haiti Information Project reported that they may have helped family members of President Moïse’s unpopular government flee the country.

Haitians are engaged in a remarkable popular revolt against Canadian policy. Solidarity activists across the country should try to amplify their message.

Revolts Against The Neoliberal World Order

March in Cape Town, South Africa, March 19, 2014 (from ActiveStills.org.)

Protests against the US and big finance-imposed neoliberal capitalism have exploded across the globe. Two weeks ago, in Pink Tide Against US Domination Rising Again In Latin America, we reviewed 12 Latin America nations that are rising up against privatization, the cutting of social programs, soaring prices and low wages. In the last week, mass protests in Chile and Bolivia have begun and Lebanon has widespread protests against debt and austerity measures. The Nonaligned Movement, which is critical of the use of illegal unilateral coercive measures by the United States to force countries to bend to its will, is meeting in Azerbaijan. A central part of the recent rise of the Pink Tide was the mass protests in Ecuador led by indigenous peoples and the labor movement. Their actions forced President Moreno to repeal a package of laws that were demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This week, after Moreno arrested movement leaders, talks broke off and then, on Thursday, the indigenous movement convened to form a popular parliament to develop a new economic plan to avoid detrimental changes required by the IMF. The future in Ecuador is uncertain, but the people are not backing down.

Chile protesters face off with the military, October 2019 (Yahoo News)

Chile Explodes In Long-Suppressed Rage, Government Responds With Abusive Military Force

This Friday, more than one million people took to streets in the Chilean capital of Santiago uniting in a call against extreme neoliberal capitalism. The capital was brought to a standstill after a week of widespread protests that were met by a heavy police and military force. So far, 16 people have died, over 200 have been wounded and over 1,500 have been detained, including children.

The protests began on October 14 when high school students demonstrated against a rise in transit fares from the equivalent of USD $1.12 to $ 1.16. By October 18, the protests grew to the point of shutting down all 136 stations of the Santiago metro system. Seventy stations were damaged and twenty were set on fire. The protests progressed into a nationwide uprising against the government and its unfair neoliberal policies. The metro fare hike was just the last straw in a long list of grievances against a system that has robbed working-class and middle-class people of a decent and dignified life.

The government declared a state of emergency and, for the first time since Pinochet, ordered the military with tanks and armored vehicles to patrol the streets. By Saturday, October 19, President Piñera went on television and said: “I have heard the voice of my compatriots.” He suspended the fare increase and announced he would host a round-table to discuss the issues. He said, “The people will be heard—but the protests have to stop.” This has not deterred the people from continuing to protest.

In a Sunday night address to the nation, Piñera declared: “We are at war with a powerful enemy which is prepared to use violence without limit.” But it was the 11,000 soldiers and Carabinero police who rampaged across Chile, firing live rounds at demonstrators and dragging protesters out of their homes at night. The president’s harsh response only aggravated the situation. Curfews were defied by thousands of demonstrators and, in Santiago, protesters holding pictures of victims under the Pinochet dictatorship temporarily surrounded the tanks.

Chilean journalist, Paul Walder describes how “a country that had seemed orderly and submissive last weekend, has exploded with anger, rage accumulated by generations and passed on to teenagers, as a decantation of the frustrations of their parents, siblings and grandparents.” The uprising and brutal conflict with the police and the military is a reflection of “social pain accumulated throughout the long history of Chilean neoliberalism.” The people of Chile have been subjected to economic and political violence by the state. Salaries are low and taxes on workers are high while billions of dollars have been stolen by corporations.

WSWS reported the uprising has expanded to involve workers writing, “Dockworkers marched en masse through several cities, stopping the bulk of national exports and closing 20 ports as part of a national strike. Donning yellow vests worn for work, the sea of thousands of dockworkers resembled France’s ‘yellow vests’ as they marched through the cities of Concepción, Antofagasta and San Antonio.” Further, copper miners, a historically militant section of the Chilean workers, who produce the country’s primary export, announced a national strike beginning Wednesday. Videos showed copper miners on lunch break banging plates and silverware and chanting “general strike!”

The uprising includes trade unions and student, feminist, and environmentalist groups. They are calling for a reversal of neoliberal capitalism and a new government.  Their demands are “transversal” (non-sectoral) and include “calling for Piñera’s resignation…pay rises and cheaper basic services, a forty-hour week, the restoration of union rights and sectoral collective bargaining, the nationalization of both public services and strategic energy sectors, student-debt forgiveness, the annulment of the country’s private-sector pension fund, the cancellation of the odious free market ‘water codes’ signed into law by Pinochet in 1981, progressive tax reform, and a new migration policy. Perhaps most dramatically, the demonstrators are calling for a new constitution to be drafted by the Constituent Assembly.”

The Washington Post referred to the specter of a “Latin American spring” similar to the revolutions that shook North Africa and the Middle East in 2011. Stratfor noted, “With regional economies squeezed by sluggish growth and governments still seeking to implement painful pro-market reforms, the situation is ripe for disruptive, widespread unrest.”

The uprising in Chile is significant because prior to these protests it was described as a success of capitalism. Chile is the original and perpetual laboratory for neoliberalism, with more than forty years of economic shock policies and a steady, low-intensity war waged against the nation’s working classes. Capitalists are shocked. Brian Winters, Vice President for Policy at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, said “Everyone following Latin America is watching this and saying, ‘Oh my god, Chile, too?’”

Bolivian protester shows support for Evo Morales outside the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia, on October 20, 2019 (Juan Karita, AP)

Bolivia Defends Its Democracy From A Coup

In Bolivia, President Evo Morales won re-election in the first round of voting. Morales, leader of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) Party, gained 47.07 percent of the vote, enough to put him 10 percentage points above his closest rival, Carlos Mesa, who received 36.51 percent of votes. Bolivia does not require a second round of voting if the top candidate achieves over 40 percent of the vote with a ten-point margin over the second-place finisher. This is the fourth time Morales has won the presidency in the first round of voting.

Before the results, the opposition announced it would mount a coup if Morales won re-election. After the result, Mesa called for street mobilizations that ended in violence at vote-counting stations, with some opposition protesters burning ballots and the buildings where counting was taking place. Mesa originally endorsed the results when they temporarily showed him having a slightly larger vote share but refused to recognize the results after they indicated that Morales won a first-round victory.

“A coup is underway, carried out by the right-wing with foreign support…what are the methods of this coup attempt? They’re not recognizing or waiting for election results, they’re burning down electoral courts, they want to proclaim the second-place candidate as the winner,” Morales told journalists.

Social movements organized to defend the election against the attempted violent coup. Movements declared a state of emergency and called for mobilizations in the streets to defend democracy while right-wing protesters launched numerous violent attacks across the country. Right-wing rioters blocked election materials from being delivered for the vote resulting in the count being suspended. Labor organizers joined the defense of democracy denouncing “the oligarchic and privatizing interests that hide behind these violent actions.”

The Organization of American States inflamed the opposition by questioning the results. The Center for Policy and Economic Research responded to the points raised by the OAS and urged them to retract their statement. Bolivia responded by inviting the OAS to carry out an audit of the final vote count. Secretary-General of the OAS Luis Almagro accepted the invitation to initiate an Analysis of Electoral Integrity. International observers in La Paz monitoring Bolivia’s general elections praised the legitimacy and transparency of the process, which contrasts statements by opposition leaders.

 

The foreign affairs ministerial conference for the countries of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku, Azerbaijan. October 2019 (mnoal.org.)

The Non-Aligned Movement Unites Against Illegal Unilateral Coercive Measures of the United States

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is meeting in Azerbaijan this weekend. At the meeting, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro criticized the IMF and denounced the U.S. economic and financial aggressions for being as lethal as its armies. He criticized IMF neoliberal austerity and privatization policies as an attack on the most vulnerable and a violation of human rights. He described the unilateral coercive measures of the United States as a violation of international law aimed at pressuring people to support US neoliberalism by inflicting collective punishment against the people as blackmail.

The NAM was established in 1961 as a forum for independent dialogue and cooperation among 120 developing countries that sought to ensure national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries. NAM represents 55 percent of the world’s population. They oppose imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony. This July, NAM held a meeting in Caracas that supported Venezuela and opposed the economic war by the United States. They released the Caracas Political Declaration.

The rising left tide in Latin America and around the world is reflected in the NAM. Popular Resistance is working with organizations and activists around the world to create a worldwide network that will work together to oppose the lawless actions of the United States, and any country that acts similarly, such as interference in the politics of other countries through open and covert regime change operations, the imposition of unilateral coercive economic measures or the threat of militarism. Sign onto the Global Appeal For Peace here

People in the United States suffer similar conditions to those around the world who are plagued by neoliberalism. As the Arab Spring inspired the Occupy Movement, will this Anti-neoliberal Autumn rekindle mass protests in the United States? This is something we need to ponder and perhaps to prepare for and organize to make happen.

“This Is Oil Country!”: Climate Protests And The Left

The left has a dark secret that is becoming ever harder to ignore: it is riddled with climate scepticism, indifference and denial.

Pick your favourite left-progressive writers, check their Twitter timelines and published work for mentions of the climate crisis. Check their level of support for protesters who, despite being arrested and beaten, have finally forced the issue into ‘mainstream’ political awareness after thirty years of fatal indifference and hostility.

This week, a Canadian fossil-fuel enthusiast defaced a mural of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, painting these words over her face:

Stop the Lies. This is Oil Country!!!

Remarkably, when it comes to their understanding of the climate issue, much of the left has long lived in ‘oil country’. Dissidents who exposed the West’s ‘humanitarian interventions’ in Iraq and Libya as oil grabs have themselves unwittingly been captured by oil industry propaganda presenting climate concern as a scam by money-grubbing scientists seeking research funds and ‘bourgeois’ cynics seeking new ways to exploit honest working people.

Last week, Julia Steinberger, Professor of Social Ecology and Ecological Economics at the University of Leeds, tweeted:

Yesterday morning, and during the whole day, #ExtinctionRebellion faced the City of London: the banks who are bankrolling and profiting from fossil industries and planetary devastation.

Yesterday evening, the human right of freedom of assembly was suspended in all of London.

As Steinberger added:

Yesterday’s action and reaction are not coincidental: this is what happens when people go up against power.

And the City of London, indeed, is the locus of corporate power in the UK. Journalist Jonathan Cook describes it as ‘a tiny, secretive enclave within Britain, a state within a state’. The protest ban signalled both the real power behind the parliamentary throne, and the depth of corporate opposition to the protests, giving the lie to the claim that they are the plaything of corporate marketing.

Leftists have been misled by a clear surge in media reporting of protests that are obviously hard to ignore (1.4 million protesters in Germany alone on a single day), and by unlikely support from some corporate media. This, it is claimed, indicates a hidden corporate agenda. The leftist website, OffGuardian, which hosts extreme climate denial (see here, here and here), commented this month:

Remember – when the MSM don’t want you to support a protest movement they just don’t tell you about it. Think #giletsjaune.

#ExtinctionRebellion is theatre – we’re invited to take sides, polarise, but never question what actually lies behind the movement

Ironically, this favoured left take is also popular with hard-right corporate media. A recent comment piece in the Telegraph was titled:

Extinction Rebellion exposes Left-wing activism as a global elite sham

In reality, ‘mainstream’ support for the protests is offset by fierce hostility from many media corporations and should be viewed in the context of decades of extreme media and political opposition. As recently as April 2019, even after the start of the mass climate protests one year ago, Colombia Journalism Review reported:

Yet at a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news… Many newspapers, too, are failing the climate test. Last October, the scientists of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report, warning that humanity had a mere 12 years to radically slash greenhouse-gas emissions or face a calamitous future in which hundreds of millions of people worldwide would go hungry or homeless or worse. Only 22 of the 50 biggest newspapers in the United States covered that report.

As we have documented for a quarter of century, this is very much the long-term trend. In 2017, Media Matters found that US news networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS had collectively given coverage to climate change that totalled just 260 minutes in the entire year. Of this, 79 per cent, or 205 minutes, was focused on actions or statements by the Trump administration, rather than on climate change itself.

Noam Chomsky has accurately described the ‘schizophrenic’ nature of ‘mainstream’ coverage:

So, it’s as if on the one hand, there’s a kind of a tunnel vision — the science reporters are occasionally saying look, “this is a catastrophe,” but then the regular coverage simply disregards it, and says [of fracking], “well, isn’t this wonderful, we won’t have to import oil, we’ll be more powerful,” and so on.

Chomsky added:

It’s a kind of schizophrenia, and it runs right through society. Take the big banks, JP Morgan Chase, for example. They’re the biggest bank and CEO Jamie Dimon is an intelligent man. I’m sure he knows the basic facts about the dire threat of global warming, yet at the same time they’re pouring investments into fossil fuel extraction, because that’s the business model. They have to make a profit tomorrow.

The facts, then, do not indicate deep corporate support for climate activism, but patchy support by less fundamentalist individuals and corporations within a system that is designed down to the last nut and bolt to generate maximum profits in minimum time.

The left-sceptic take on the climate protests is as deluded as any notion that the West was ‘fighting for democracy’ in Libya, or acting to ‘liberate’ Iraq. It is an example of why environmentalists have long lumped left and right together as ‘grey politics’ subordinating the planet to fantasies of endless industrial ‘progress’ and ‘growth’. Consider, for example, the terrible record of the Labour Party on climate change until very recently. The truth is that, with honourable exceptions, the left has never had a problem with the concept of infinite growth on a finite planet, only with how the fruits of that growth are distributed. Along with the right, it has struggled mightily to abandon this article of faith, this now completely discredited conceit of ‘manifest destiny’ (see here for further discussion).

This week, Extinction Rebellion (XR) commented:

Total silence from the Government since Parliament’s declaration of an environment and climate emergency in May.1

The Tory Party is the party of corporate power, and this is where Big Business currently is on climate – it wants to make cosmetic changes, pretend nothing is happening and carry on regardless.

If we are able to maintain a finger-hold on reality, then we have to accept that climate science, based on elementary principles of physics, is not part of a corporate conspiracy, is not effete ‘middle class’ paranoia, and is not designed to exploit the public. At time of writing, more than 1,100 scientists have signed the ‘Scientists’ Declaration of Support for Non-Violent Direct Action Against Government Inaction Over the Climate and Ecological Emergency.’

This support for the protests, not positive comments from the Guardian, is what matters.

Message To The ‘Eco-Zealots’ – ‘We’ll Take You Down!’

On October 17, video footage emerged of a mob endangering the life of a peaceful XR climate protester by throwing him off the roof of a London tube train to the ground where he was then punched and kicked on the ground.

ITV showed additional footage of an XR camera team filming the same protest at London’s Canning Town station being punched and kicked on the ground by the mob. The Telegraph reported that people on the platform who ‘took matters into their own hands’ could be investigated by police, who said their actions were ‘unacceptable’. The protesters had held up the train for ‘a few seconds’ before they were attacked. XR responded:

The people involved today did not take this action lightly. They were a grandfather, an ex-buddhist teacher, a vicar and a former GP among others who acted out of rational fear for the future as this crisis deepens.

The Telegraph reported that one of the two activists who climbed on top of the train was 36-year-old Mark Ovland, who gave up his Buddhist studies to devote himself to climate change action. In a blogpost before the Canning Town action, Ovland wrote:

… sometimes the actions I choose to take part in won’t be popular, I know that. But I’m really not in this to be popular.

I’m in this because I love life so, so much, and I want it to continue and I don’t know what else to do. I’m wanting to help raise an alarm so loud that no one can ignore it.

Kerry-Anne Mendoza, Editor-in-Chief of The Canary, a leftist website that has strongly supported the protests, responded to the incident:

The XR stunt shows what happens when a movement for all gets dominated by middle class whiteness.

We’ve been raising these concerns for a while, and it’s overdue they be heard and acted upon. Precisely because the cause is so important and urgent. In solidarity

We responded on Twitter:

That’s a huge leap. People of all classes and colours are protesting and disrupting in numerous non-violent ways around the planet. This “stunt” delayed commuters for a short period of time. It’s a big deal because the protester was violently attacked – that’s what matters.

Mendoza replied:

I’d already posted about the violence being a) unacceptable, and b) not about a train delay, but a mob mentality that no one should be praising. I can do that, and raise an issue about how XR operates.

In fact, Mendoza’s first response to the sight of peaceful protesters being beaten and kicked was to blame the victims:

What a mess! A tone deaf move borne of XR’s blindspots on race & class.

As for the mob violence: ‘That’s not to be admired.’

Mendoza’s condemnation was entirely reserved for the protesters, describing them as ‘silly buggers [who] ended up blocking an electric train, in a working class community, and pissing off nearly everyone. The arrogance of privilege’.

The peaceful protesters, then, were ‘silly buggers’, the mob a ‘working class community’. Mendoza added of the people who had been attacked that they were ‘tone deaf middle class activists’ who were ‘stupid’.

The Canary published a report by Ed Sykes on the Canning Town incident, ‘which revealed an apparent disconnect between the movement and ordinary working-class communities’. Even BBC articles like to make some gesture in the direction of balance, but Sykes gave exactly one point of view over and over again –  XR’s ‘own goal’ had been foolish, risible: ‘the action had “alienated” working-class people… activists should focus their efforts “on politicians & the top of big corporations & banks”.’

By contrast, Jasper Jackson noted in the New Statesman that much of the criticism of the action had simply misunderstood the purpose of the protests:

Extinction Rebellion has been clear that its primary goal is not to secure majority support for taking the necessary action to tackle climate change.

There is good reason for this. Decades of campaigning have not thrust climate change to the forefront of political consciousness. People care about the environment and are worried about a warming planet, but not enough for most to make it the deciding factor in which way they vote.

Instead, XR’s goal is to cause enough disruption to the economy and the functioning of society that governments are forced to do what is needed to make a dent in global warming. If the cost of their protests and direct action outweighs the investment needed to turn us into a zero-carbon economy, the economic arguments should succeed where the existential and moral ones haven’t.

The campaign is based on research that suggests that mobilising just 3.5 per cent of the population can be enough for a movement to succeed – the ‘distracted and apathetic’ majority is not the target audience. The simple fact is that 30 years of effort has failed totally, so XR is trying something different. As Jackson concluded:

That is going to mean pissing a lot of people off. Going by recent history, their approach may be the only option left.

In 2014, ‘mainstream’ media responded with grim indifference after left-wing MP George Galloway was hospitalised by a brutal, politically motivated street attack. Remarkably, last week, Galloway retweeted an article celebrating the mob attack on the climate protesters published in The Sun by the infamous climate denier Mick Hume, who wrote:

And like those other passengers packed on the platform, Londoners were cheering the working-class commuters who showed the amazed eco-zealots exactly what we thought of their attempts to bring the Tube to a halt.

Hume, formerly editor of Living Marxism, newspaper of the now-defunct Revolutionary Communist Party, added:

The message from the rebelling masses was clear: Protest all you like — but try to mess with our grim morning slog to work and we’ll take you down!

Under a picture of an activist being dragged along the ground, a Sun caption read:

By targeting Canning Town, the middle-class activists demonstrated that their arrogance is only exceeded by their ignorance.

It goes without saying that this was poisonous propaganda likely to fuel further hatred for the protesters.

Above a video of the tube station violence, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood tweeted:

This response in London today has my full support.

Tom Kibasi, director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, said it was good to see ‘working class Londoners… standing up’ for themselves. Kibasi later tweeted:

I regret tweeting in haste earlier this morning and went too far.

In the Telegraph, Charlotte Gill stuck her own boot into the victims of the attack:

Through their increasingly deranged requests, and middle-class obsession with their grandchildren’s futures, Extinction rebels have achieved something utterly extraordinary: they have turned climate change into a class war.

As this makes clear, the issue of class is a major line of attack for corporate media – aided, it seems, by many on the left – seeking to turn the public against the protests. Thus, Gill added:

Overwhelmingly, there’s a whiff of economic superiority about XR, expanded upon over the weekend when the Mail on Sunday revealed that activists have been paid up to £400-a-week for inflicting misery on Londoners. Rebels have become the darlings of the rich and famous, with oil heiress Aileen Getty giving them £500,000 in donations and 100 celebrities, including Lily Cole and Steve Coogan, signing an open letter (urgh!) urging the public to “educate” themselves on climate change.

Why don’t these self-regarding twerps “educate” themselves on what it’s like to be on the national living wage?

In the Independent, celebrity broadcaster and commentator Janet Street-Porter wrote under the following title, apparently without irony: ‘Pity the poor carbon-chomping celebrities who think they’re “just like us”‘. Street-Porter added:

You can’t help wondering if this is a demo dominated by the middle class.

In the Telegraph, Julie Burchill lamented hearing ‘the over-privileged and under-productive half-wits of Extinction Rebellion talk about economic growth as if it was child abuse’, revealing XR’s ‘contempt’ for working people.

The Evening Standard, a latter-day ‘penny dreadful’ distributed free to Londoners, opined:

A small number of idiots, claiming to protest on behalf of Extinction Rebellion, climbed on Tube trains and the DLR this morning in east London to stop people getting to work. It was risky, selfish and stupid and they deserved the contempt now being poured on them.

Yes, the reaction of some passengers at Canning Town, who dragged them off the top of Jubilee line carriages and began a fight, was contemptible too — brave station staff did their best to keep order. But it’s no wonder passengers were angry.

This did not vindicate the violence but affirmed the righteousness of the anger, which is bad enough.

More generally, the promotion of hatred of climate protesters is a primitive but popular theme in ‘mainstream’ discourse. Ezra Levant of Rebel News described Greta Thunberg as ‘a circus freak’ who had been ordered by her mother ‘to infect other children with terror & depression’.

British businessman and Brexit bankroller Arron Banks responded to news that Thunberg was sailing to the US to attend the UN Climate Action Summit, tweeting:

Freak yachting accidents do happen in August…

Matt Baish, a US teacher, said he would not attend a rally featuring Thunberg because he didn’t ‘have my sniper rifle’.

Fox News contributor Steve Milloy described Thunberg as a ‘teenage puppet’, adding: ‘Climate bedwetters… the world laughs at this Greta charade.’

All of this, remember, directed at a 16-year-old child.

The Moral Balance – What Action Is Legitimate?

So what rights do climate protesters have in seeking to avert the near-term extinction of all human and most other life on earth?

In wartime, states have, of course, repeatedly bombed, indeed nuked, whole civilian cities in the cause of ‘national defence’. When US leaders obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they did so on the declared, highly questionable pretext that incinerating hundreds of thousands of civilians was necessary to preserve the lives of US soldiers who would otherwise be killed invading Japan. At the time, the US mainland was facing no threat even of attack, much less of destruction and defeat. Millions of US citizens then (as now) considered these atrocities entirely justifiable. In our own time, consistently large numbers of British and US people express few or no qualms when their governments decide to bomb one more country in the Middle East.

A key reason for this complacency is that modern citizens have been persuaded to perceive the state as a uniquely qualified moral actor to which we should defer, with the military and political leadership (even Trump!) often deemed completely beyond reproach when war is waged. There is no rational basis for this exalted view of the state. Britain and the US, for example, have an appalling record in greed-driven mass murder and exploitation. These systems of power have far less moral credibility, far less right to act, than the average, non-psychopathic individual – all of us paragons of virtue by comparison.

Given that we really are facing extinction – the death of everyone we know and love, ourselves included – and given that, over the last thirty years, governments and corporations have completely ignored the entreaties of climate scientists and activists by powerfully accelerating, not restraining, the runaway corporate capitalist machine – then, adopting ‘mainstream’ standards, activists must be morally entitled to use violence, even extreme violence, in trying to prevent the elimination of life on earth. After all, people are already dying in large numbers. Misha Coleman, one of the authors of a study by Australia’s Monash University, commented last July:

There are absolutely people dying climate-related deaths, [especially due to] heat stress right now.

During the Black Saturday fires [in Victoria, Australia, in 2009] for example, we know that people were directly killed by the fires, but there were nearly 400 additional deaths in those hot days from heat stress and heatstroke.

There are numerous similar examples, but these deaths are tiny specks compared to what lies ahead. A 2018 report from the World Health Organisation predicted that between 2030 and 2050, climate change would cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year, some 5 million in total. But Frank Fenner, Emeritus Professor in Microbiology at the Australian National University and an authority on extinction, went much further when he predicted literally billions of deaths in an interview with the Australian newspaper in 2010:

We’re going to become extinct. Whatever we do now is too late. Climate change is just at the very beginning… Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years… I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off. Mitigation would slow things down a bit, but there are too many people here already.

We abhor violence and are convinced that a resort to violence in the name of climate action would quickly alienate the public and generate a fascistic state backlash that would destroy any remaining hope of positive government action. It is absolutely not the answer. But the fact remains that all peaceful, non-violent actions must be deemed legitimate insofar as they obstruct the extinction of life on earth.

Climate science is not a class, race or gender issue. The idea that some kind of bogus class analysis can declare protesters ‘stupid’, ‘arrogant’ and ‘immoral’ for inconveniencing commuters, for costing working class people money, and even their jobs, is absurd. In fact, it is simply surreal, if – and it’s a big ‘if’ – we are able to grasp the almost unimaginable and imminent nature of the climate threat, and to weigh the merits of the competing moral claims, as we do in wartime. Millions of people cannot accept the need to kill and be killed in the hundreds of thousands, or millions, in defence of the nation, and then rail at the obstruction of public transport in the defence of all humanity. Of course, we can argue that protesters were naïve to risk their safety by provoking commuters in London’s notoriously tough East End, but that is not an argument about the ethics of the protest.

We understand that the people punching and kicking protesters in Canning Town likely had little understanding of the truth of our situation – dumbed-down state education, media distraction and a very real corporate conspiracy to deceive the public have seen to that. We understand that they would find our positing of the moral balance in these terms hysterical and absurd, perhaps a ‘middle class fantasy’. But, as ever, ignorance does not help them or us, and is no defence.

  1. XR, emailed press release, 22 October 2019.

Celebrity Protesters and Extinction Rebellion

Benedict Cumberbatch.  Olivia Colman.  Fine actors.  They believe in Extinction Rebellion, or perhaps, rebelling against the prospect of extinction.  The environment thing, humanity as a damnably scandalous, ecologically damaging species. But they also believe in taking sponsorship from the very same entities who are doing their best (or worst) to engage in matters of existential oblivion.  So the circle of contradiction, even hypocrisy, is complete.

The matter has come to the fore over overt expressions of support for XR’s two-week effort of disruption in London by the entertainment set.  Severable notable sites have received the attention of the climate change protest group.  The Treasury building has been sprayed with fake blood.  The London Underground train system has been disrupted.  Protestors have glued themselves to trains, to floors and even mounted trains.  Roads to Westminster were blocked, sit-ins staged at City Airport.  Over a 1,700 arrests have been made.

Phil Kingston was one such figure, not exactly a rabble rouser or hardened rioter.  The 83-year-old glued his hand to the side of a carriage at Shadwell and was concerned for his grandchildren.  “I’m also very concerned about what’s happening in the poorer parts of the world who are being hit hardest by climate breakdown.”  Being Christian, he expressed concern about “God’s creation being wrecked across the world.”  Kingston was also jointed by a rather eclectic sampling: a vicar, an ex-Buddhist instructor, and a former GP.

The incident, which involved aggressive scuffling between commuters and the protesters, was acknowledged in a statement from the movement as something divisive.  “In light of today’s events, Extinction Rebellion will be looking at ways to bring people together rather than create an unnecessary division.”  Others were keen to pick holes in the rationale of the protest: Why, for instance, get at an electric train?  Within XR, things are far from uniform.

Such protestors were a rather humble lot, but it did not take long for the bigger fish to join the shoal. Cumberbatch added his voice of support, his grin flashing as it was snapped by cameras in front of the Extinction Rebellion hearse blocking traffic to Trafalgar Square.  Behind him were the conspicuous words hovering with spectral, foreboding promise: “Our future.”

The criticism of this was not far behind.  Cumberbatch is the very conspicuous “brand ambassador” for MG in India.  (Previously, Jaguar counted him among their celebrity proponents.)  The MG GS sports a particularly thirsty engine, and the actor is featured in an advertisement doing rounds in one on, of all places, Trafalgar Square.  MG India’s Hector SUV has also boasted Cumberbatch’s smooth persona.

Academy award winner Colman has also found herself at odd between protest and brand. Having openly expressed her support for the movement, questions were asked by some of the more barbed wings of the British press whether there might be a clash between being on a British Airways inflight video, and disrupting flights.

Over the summer, Oscar winning actress Dame Emma Thompson was also ribbed for flying from Los Angeles to London to participate in an Extinction Rebellion protest.  Her explanation to BBC Radio 4 was that the objects of her job, and being a protester, might not always converge.  “It’s very difficult to do my job without occasionally flying, although I do fly a lot less than I did.”

Those bastions of supposed establishment wisdom, such as The Spectator, were chortling and derisive.  Toby Young was keen to highlight how purchasing vegan baguettes at Pret a Manger was inconsistent with anti-capitalist protest.  He also expressed, at least initially, concern at how law enforcement authorities had, generally speaking, been models of restraint before XR enthusiasts. Had there been “a group of Catholic nuns protesting about changes to the Gender Recognition Act, the riot squad would have been straight with the tear gas.”  For Young, it was good to laugh at these modern millenarians infused with the spirit of apocalyptic terror.

The issue of celebrity encrustation, however, was bound to come by and find voice.  And the engine room of entertainment turns the moral message, however hypocritical, into entertainment.  Bite the hand that feeds you and call it a show.  Having anticipated the rage, the celebrity big wigs have turned vice into a virtue.  An open letter with a hundred names or so, from Sir Bob Geldof to Sienna Miller, took to the barricades and distribution channels with an open letter of affected contrition.  “Dear journalists who have called us hypocrites.  You’re right.  We live high carbon lives and the industries that we are part of have huge carbon footprints.”

What matters is the broad church of hypocrisy.  “Like you – and everyone else – we are stuck in this fossil-fuel economy and without systemic change, our lifestyles will keep on causing climate and ecological harm.”

Those behind the letter stressed the speed of change as their concern. “Climate change is happening faster and more furiously than was predicted.  Millions of people are suffering, leaving their homes and arriving on our border as refugees.”  Children, through the voice of Greta Thunberg, had also called upon “the people with power and influence, to stand up and fight for their already devasted future.”  (Rather cocksure are these celebrities, they, who wield such, as yet unmeasured influence.)

Unlike those critical journalists, the signatories cannot help but be just a touch smug.  There was “a more urgent story that our profiles and platforms can draw attention to.  Life on earth is dying.  We are living in the midst of the 6th mass extinction.”

Much, and in some cases too much, can be made about the celebrity activist who undercuts the argument.  “None of us,” explained Sarah Lunnon of Extinction Rebellion, “is perfect.”  The argument is still worth making, and publicity still worth having.  Unfortunately for the likes of Cumberbatch, the gravity of such messages can be obscured by the person as label.  In revolution, becoming a label is not only counterproductive but deadly.  Protestors like Kingston can just hold their head that much higher.

Ecuador: The fight against Moreno and the IMF is far from over

In Ecuador, the fight against IMF austerity measures is far from over. Just a few hours after my article was published on Sunday, 13 October, Ecuador and the IMF’s Killing Spree, President Lenin Moreno declared the infamous Decree 883 was canceled; i.e., the astronomical price increases for fuel were reversed, the (police) state of emergency and curfew were called off. He wanted to put an end to the 11 days of protests with police and military-induced violence.

The police, supported by the army, carried out repression during the protests, like they have not been seen in Ecuador’s recent history, claiming at least 7 deaths, about 1,340 injured, and more than 1,100 arrested. The streets of Quito were an absolute chaos; destruction, fire, tear gas, smoke.

Austerity measures, other than an exorbitant hike in fuel prices, included shrinking government spending, laying off 23,000 state employees, privatization of social services and infrastructure, and more, all linked to the IMF loan of US$ 4.2 billion. These measures were apparently also “canceled”. At least, so it looked and sounded at the outset.

This seeming victory was achieved largely thanks to the indigenous movement, the Conaie (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), an umbrella organization of indigenous groups across Ecuador. They have relentlessly fought for their rights and against the ferocious abrogation of all the social benefits they acquired – finally – during the ten years of Rafael Correa’s socialist government which served, and still serves, as an example for much of Latin America.

Not the indigenous groups, or anybody else of the Ecuadorian people were consulted about the IMF loan. The basic IMF deal was already brokered in January 2019, when Lenin Moreno met Madame Lagarde, at that time still head of the IMF, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. There were just some “minor issues” that Moreno had to resolve before he could sign this horrendous debt onto Ecuador’s books.

One of the “issues” was a request by the US via its extended arm, the IMF was to expel Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, to bring him closer to extradition to the US, where he may face the death penalty, or Guantanamo, for having said and published the truth about the atrocious war crimes committed by the United States. And neo-Nazi, Moreno, complied. Julian Assange is now slowly degenerating by torture and disease in a UK maximum security prison. And the world says nothing. Not even our “Peace Loving’ UN system. All is quiet. Not to molest the Chief-in-Tyrant, sitting on his cardboard throne in Washington.

Just a few days after British police dragged Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the 4.2-billion-dollar loan / debt deal was signed. No coincidence. Assange was holed-up by self-imposed asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, for almost seven years, for justified fear of being “renditioned” to the US or another torturing US ally.

Now, when all the austerity measures were to be cancelled by nullifying Decree 883, why did Moreno assemble a team of advisers to work out a new decree? Who are these advisers? People from the IMF, from the US Treasury, or simply “Fifth Columnists”, trained and funded by NED (National Endowment for Democracy)? Why isn’t the decree and with it all IMF-imposed austerity simply canceled? Full stop?

In any case, Sunday night, Conaie reported that a “commission” was set up to “draft the decree that replaces it 883 – that this does not end until the agreement is fully implemented”.

Who is part of this commission and what exactly is the commission drafting? Will the commission prepare a new decree with new conditions? None of this is clear at this point. Is Conaie prepared to make conditions that in the long-rung could be disastrous? Does Conaie know that the empire never gives up; i.e., the IMF, as long as they have their dirty fingers in Ecuador with 4.2 billion dollars? No compromise, please, Conaie!

If anything, the new “decree” should include a clause requesting full cancellation of the IMF loan. Otherwise, the IMF will not let go, will come back in one form or another to grab Ecuador’s resources. That is the US doctrine — never depart from a goal, and it is extended through the IMF, the World Bank and through other financial institutions over which the US Treasury has control. This is modern warfare through a financial handle on a country, stealing accumulated social capital and natural resources by strictly enforced austerity programs causing famine, disease, desperation, and death. See recent examples — Greece, Ukraine, Argentina.

Of course, it takes two to tango, and without a corrupt government on the other side, the IMF can do nothing.

What will happen to the protest leaders? Is this being covered by the new decree? The front men and women of a revolution that shook the country for eleven days? Many of the leaders, and others, are incarcerated as political prisoners and should be freed.

A new decree to replace the old one, Decree 883, smells like a rat; like a new deception is being prepared and the apparent “victory” is just a make-believe for the moment to reinstate order in Quito and the country. Instead of crushing Ecuadorians with a bulldozer; i.e., the Decree 883 that attempted to shove all the IMF austerity measures down the throat of the Ecuadorians at once, it may come piecemeal, little by little, so the immediate impact will be less noticeable and eventually the sour bites are sliding better down the throat of Ecuadorians so Moreno may expect. This would not be the first time that a Government weasels its way out of protests: Stop the “killer measures” for now, and reintroduce them later, slowly in a different format.

Conaie’s leaders are concerned about this. They have said so. They would like to know what the new decree contains, and want to have a say in its drafting, before they definitely call off their protests. What they really want is the resignation of Lenin Moreno. That’s what they should aim for, because this man has already proven several times in only two years of presidency that he is a liar, cannot be trusted, and sells the people and their natural resources for the benefit of a small Ecuadorian elite and their foreign partners, mostly US oil corporations. Even if he were to cave in now, Moreno will come back, if allowed to stay in power, to neoliberalize the country. That’s his compact. That’s the premise under which he has been made president.

And, what nobody talked about, nor are there any reports in either mainstream or progressive news, is what will happen with the US$ 4.2 billion IMF loan?  Why is it not cancelled? Is the cancellation of this loan going to be part of the new decree? Ecuador doesn’t need the loan. With a debt – GDP ratio of 40%, there is definitely no need whatsoever to call for IMF’s “help”. As proportion of GDP, Ecuador’s debt is only two thirds of that of Germany.

Instead of foreign loans, Ecuador’s Government could call in the outstanding debt of about US$ 4.5 billion from fines, unpaid interests and other overdue fees from corporations and Ecuadorian oligarchs so the government could recapitalize her treasury with own, interest free money. But instead, Moreno “forgave” the debt of the oligarchs, when contracting the IMF loan. That, in itself, is telling a lot. President Moreno, who used to be Correa’s Vice President, running on the same Platform, the center-left PAIS Alliance, turned tables less than a year into his presidency, destroyed the PAIS Alliance and betrayed his compatriots miserably.

Canceling an IMF loan is relatively easy. There is no law that would prevent Ecuador from withdrawing from the IMF deal, at no penalty. This has happened many times before. All that’s needed are politicians with a people-oriented mentality – a people’s friendly attitude – and the country would be rid of this debt and rid of the dictate of the IMF.

Conaie may consider insisting on two objectives before calling off the protests and moving back to their lands: One, canceling the IMF loan of US$ 4.2 billion, and two, suspending the Parliament and President Moreno of his functions; calling-in a caretaker government and planning new elections within 3 months; elections in which Rafael Correa might again run for President.

The Decent Protester: A Down Under Creation

The Decent Protester, appropriately capitalised and revered, is, from the outset, one who does not protest. It is an important point: to protest in the visage of such a person is an urge best left to inner fantasy and feeling. You come late to the scene: the best work and revolt has been done; the people who made the change are either dead, in prison, or ostracised.  Modest changes might be made to the legal system, if at all.

To actually protest, by which is meant screaming, hollering, and disrupting, with the occasional sign of public indignation, is something of a betrayal.  A betrayal to your comfortable station; a betrayal to your happy state of affairs.  Show disgust, but keep it regular, modest and contained.  Add a dash of bitters that amount to hypocrisy.

This regularity is something that ensures the continuation of police states, apartheid regimes, and vicious rulers.  It also perpetuates the status quo in liberal democracies.  The cleverness of this is the idea of permissible revolt: As long as you operate within the acceptable boundaries of protest, your conscience is given its balm, and the regime can continue to hum to the tune of the tolerable.  It is a principle that states of all political hues adopt, though the degree of that adoption is sometimes moderated by bills of rights and the like.

When Henry D. Thoreau was arrested and found himself spending a night in a Concord prison in 1846 for refusing to pay his poll tax, he was making a broader statement about breaking rules, albeit from a selfish perspective.  His objects of disaffection were slavery and the Mexican War.  To the individual exists a conscience that should not bow to majoritarian wishes.  If there is a law “of such a nature that it requires you to be an agent of injustice to another,” he writes in Civil Disobedience, “then, I say, break the law.”  In Walden (1854), he elaborated on the point, claiming that no citizen “for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislation.”

This view has hardly gone unchallenged, suggesting that civil disobedience can be a slippery matter.  Hannah Arendt cast more than a heavy stone at Thoreau in her own essay on the subject in The New Yorker in September 1970.  Her proposal, instead, was the necessary need to institutionalise civil disobedience and render it a matter of recognised action, rather than individual abstention.  Thoreau had, after all, suggested distance and the will of the individual, that it was “not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it…”

To that end, Arendt felt that “it would be an event of great significance to find a constitutional niche for civil disobedience – of no less significance, perhaps, than the event of the founding of the constitutio liberatis, nearly two hundred years ago.”  But she resists, curiously enough, the idea of legalising it, favouring a political approach akin to treating the protester as a registered lobbyist or special interest group.  “These minorities of opinion would thus be able to establish themselves as a power that is not only ‘seen from afar’ during demonstrations and other dramatizations of their viewpoint, but is always present and to be reckoned with in the daily business of government.”

Few countries better exemplify this dilemma than Australia, a country that has no formal constitutional protection of the right to protest yet insists on a collaborative model between protestor and state (protest permits, for instance, take precedence over any organic right; cooperating with police is encouraged, as laws are to be abided by).  In some ways, an argument might well be made that civil disobedience, in anaemic form, has been institutionalised down under.

The result brought forth in this coagulation is simple if compromising: the Decent Protester.  Such a person is one very much at odds with the barebones definition of civil disobedience advanced by Robin Celikates, who describes it as “intentionally unlawful protest action, which is based on principles and aims at changing (as in preventing or enforcing) certain laws or political steps.”  In other words, there can be no Australian Rosa Parks.

Each state has its own guidelines for the decent protester, offering a helpful hand for those braving a march or organising a gathering.  An information booklet covering the right to protest in the Australian Capital Territory has a range of “guidelines”.  It speaks of “many public places” in Canberra, the national capital, “where people can exercise their right to communicate their opinions and ideas through peaceful protests and demonstrations.”  The authors of the booklet make the claim that Australian “democracy recognises this right which is subject to the general law and must be balanced against the rights and interests of others and of the community as a whole.”

The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s office gives the false impression that Australia has a clear right to peaceful assembly for people to meet and “engage in peaceful protest.”  A list of international human rights treaties are suggested as relevant, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (articles 21 and 22) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (article 8(1)(a)).  But being a party to a convention is not the same as incorporating it.  Legislation needs to be passed and, for that reason, remains mediated through the organs of the state.  The Fair Work Act 2009, for instance, protects freedom of association in the workplace but only in the context of being, or not being, members of industrial associations.  Not exactly much to go on.

Other publications venture a much older right to protest, one that came to the Great Southern Land, paradoxically enough, with convict ships and manacles. “The origins of the common law right to assembly,” argues a briefing paper by Tom Gotsis for the NSW Parliamentary Research Service, “have been traced back 800 years to the signing of the Magna Carta.”  This, in turn, finds modest recognition in state courts and the High Court of Australia, not least through the limited implied right of political communication.  Ever eccentric in its conservatism, that right is not a private one to be exercised against the state, merely a control of hubristic parliaments who venture laws disproportionate to it.  Not exactly a glorious, fit thing, is that implied right.

Such protest, measured, managed and tranquilised, makes the fundamental point that those who control the indignation control the argument.  Much time has been spent in Australia embedding police within the protest structure, ensuring that order is maintained.  Trains, buses and cars must still run on time.  People need to get to work.  Children need to be in school.  The message is thereby defanged in the name of decency.  It also means that genuine lawbreaking aimed at altering any policies will be frowned upon as indecent.  Good Australians would never do that.

Climate and the Little Green Women and Men

The Little Green Women and Men (LGWM) are us, humanoids, especially those living in the west, believing we command Mother Earth. Well, no wonder, there is a group among us, who claims to be “God’s Chosen People” – and they act it all the way. So much so, that they and their influence on LGWMs, have almost managed to dominate all the women, men and resources of Mother Earth.

Humanoids, LGWMs, are easily manipulated. They have chosen to be green, because “green” is IN. They are ‘little’, because in the big scheme of things, as compared to Mother Nature, for example, they are diminutive. Very.  Yet, they pretend to command the climate. Green parties all over the western world are multiplying fast; almost like the legendary grain on a chessboard. They are called green but they come in all shades, from brown to green to red, and everything in between. In Germany the Greens have become so popular that during the next elections they may catch up to 30 % of the votes.

Question is: What will they do when they come to real power, when they are in Government, confronted with the interests of big business? Will they bend over, cave in – as did the Socialist parties throughout Europe during the last half of the 20th Century?

Today, one has to be green to belong. Who is green, (pretends) fighting for the environment, for the protection of the environment – which is good, per se. But fighting for the environment is not a linear affair, as they, the LGWMs, are made to believe, and many of them believe, as “science” tells them to believe. When they believe, they create a comfort zone for themselves, where guilt disappears. They don’t question anymore. THE authority, called “science”, tells them the “facts” to believe. And if they do, they are almost absolved from guilt.

Almost – because to be really absolved in our western ultra-capitalist world, only money can really absolve you. So, they – or we, collectively, whether we believe in the propaganda or not (fortunately some of us don’t), will be asked to pay – to pay environmental fees and taxes of all kinds and shapes. To be more attractive they may be called ‘climate taxes’ for using fossil fuel, for buying plastic, for flying in airplanes, for consuming no end and-so-on. Hardly anybody asks what will be done with this new tax money.

As it cannot stop climate from changing, it will most likely end up in private banks, mostly Wall Street banks, where the billions collected will grow into speculative multi-trillions-dollar bubbles. And we know what eventually happens with bubbles. We all remember the Carbon Funds, which apparently are not dead yet, but will rather be resuscitated in this new fervor to fight climate change.

Stamped by our western Judeo-Christian guilt culture, we truly believe from the bottom of our hearts that paying a climate tax will free us from environmental responsibilities and put us back into our comfort zones. We then comfortably and guiltlessly continue driving our huge gas guzzling, CO2-emitting SUVs. That’s why the corporate manipulators — BIG-BIG money and their media — tells us every day, the Climate Armageddon is coming. So, we pay to postpone it.

It was coming already at the first UN-sponsored Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of 1992 which was extended to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, an international treaty that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on scientific consensus that (1) global warming is occurring and (2) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997, by 192 nations. The Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005.

But despite all the warnings of Armageddon, nothing has happened. Even if mankind was responsible for the CO2 production that changes climate, mankind, or rather the LGWMs, have ignored it. Climate Armageddon is still written all over the walls. But it moves from wall to wall, further into the future, as nobody seems to be interested in preventing it.

After Kyoto followed Copenhagen, the next UN-sponsored Climate Change Conference, also called the Copenhagen Summit, in December 2009. Similar discourse, and new targets were set and propagated; billions of dollars were pledged by governments – but few paid-in, mostly because already then it was not quite clear who should administer the funds and who should invest in what and where to stop the climate from changing. Copenhagen also coined the 350-slogan. It stands for 350 ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide (CO2) which has been identified as the safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point. As of today, there is climate NGO called 350.org.

In 2019, CO2 is expected to pass the 410-ppm level.

As per the New Scientist (25 January 2019), carbon dioxide levels will soar past the 410 ppm milestone in 2019. We will pass yet another unwelcome milestone this year. The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to rise by 2.8 parts per million to 411 ppm in 2019 – passing 410 ppm just a few years after first passing the 400 ppm mark.

No stopping of climate change is happening and Armageddon is moving on.

What this climate movement doesn’t seem to understand, or those that manage it do not want the world to know, that climate is a complex structure of ever shifting values and natural phenomena; that climate is influenced by many factors which are all inter-related and orders of magnitude more important than what man can ever contribute. There is the sun with its constantly changing eruptions and radiation emissions, perhaps the most important influence; then the oceans, while they absorb CO2, they also emit CO2 – and most important according to a 30-year NASA study the oceans themselves change temperatures in natural intervals of roughly ten years, which is called El Niño in the Pacific and the North Atlantic Oscillation in the Atlantic. They are responsible for large-scale weather patterns, also orders of magnitude larger than what man could ever create. In addition, there are the volcanos around the world, many of which are active. A massive eruption of one of them; i.e., Iceland, the Philippines, Italy, Hawaii may produce a multiple of CO2 levels of what man produces in one year.

And we should also be aware of what is not much talked about, that the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have developed since the sixties a weather control-program that functions with electromagnetic waves emitted in the Ionosphere, altering ionospheric temperatures to create specific weather patterns. The intention is to weaponize the weather so as to control entire regions by weather, floods, droughts, hurricanes… you name it. This program has been tested and applied during the Vietnam war, when it was capable to prolong and enhance the Monsoon season, so as the paths the Vietcong used to transit from the North to the South were made impassable. That is really man-made.

The program used to be called HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) and was stationed in Alaska. It has now nominally been dismantled, but continuous more clandestinely to be sophisticated enough to allow the US to control the world’s weather by 2030, according to the Pentagon.

Talking about military and climate – the wars and conflicts mostly inspired by the US and carried out by the Pentagon, NATO or their mercenary proxies — cause more than half of the man-made CO2 emissions. This is a fact that may never be discussed in these UN-sponsored climate conferences — a strict rule imposed by Washington.

These are just a few climate-influencing elements, the composite of which is much larger than each one acting linearly on its own, because they are all inter-related, they are all acting holistically and dynamically – in other words, not predictably – and with a power orders of magnitude larger than CO2 by itself, let alone man-made CO2 which is but a tiny fraction of all greenhouse gases produced by nature. And these ever-occurring climate changes, are well controlled by nature, as NASA’s Earth Observatory found out by studying the oceans for over 30 years (). They are kept in balance by our Mother Earth, no matter how much we would like to influence them.

*****

Notice this: We are today threatened by nuclear war, a nuclear war that could wipe out mankind within a few days – yet we talk and demonstrate for climate change prevention, man-made CO2 reduction. Public Icon, the Swedish teenager, Greta, and her followers, the Friday for the Future kids and those that call themselves “Extinction Rebellion”, take to the streets in so-called climate strikes by the hundreds of thousands throughout the world.

Seriously, imagine the use of CO2-producing fossil fuel and an industrial agriculture infesting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the engine for 90% of the world’s economy – and let’s not forget the CO2 produced by wars and hostilities around the globe – all of which is also the engine for huge corporate profits!  Does anyone seriously believe that hundreds of thousands, or even millions, demonstrating against climate change  will have an iota of influence on corporate behavior and profit oriented growth policies?

These kids – the LGWMs – are dreaming. Most of them anyway. Some of their leaders are directed by the same corporations they pretend to fight and to demonstrate against. Generally, the LGWM movement doesn’t have a clear agenda, other than talking loosely and abstractly about CO2 reduction. But they don’t really know how to go about it and what this means, what steps need to be taken and by whom, what implications and consequences this would have for our today’s civilization and every-day life, yes, theirs too, the climate kids’ every-day life. Thy have no program of what has to change; they just believe the change has to come from ‘outside’; i.e., the politicians. No idea either that these same politicians are captured by the same industrial, financial and specifically the war industrial complex and that this highly capitalist money-making machinery also commands the propaganda apparatus on which they drive and thrive.

These climate folks managed to organize a special UN Climate event preceding the 2019 UN General Assembly, during which the most powerful and obnoxious representatives of nations and heads of states, notably of the US of A, talked aggression no end to those countries that do not bend to their orders and do not want to submit their people and natural resources for exploitation and profit of the western elite. In the special firing line are the usual condemned and sanctioned – but almost the only true sovereign countries left on this globe – Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea – and, of course, Russia and China.

Instead of seeking peace, the essence of the UN Charter, the UN has become a forum for war declarations and climate change. If ever man wants to make a true contribution to climate change, it can only be done by PEACE, through peaceful cooperation and solidarity among nations across the globe.

The LGWM movement has to wake up to a reality which is not propaganda-based and has to do with our behavior, with our entire attitude, with our socioeconomic system, with a turbo-capitalist system that is growth-based with ever larger profit margins. The system to survive has to expand every day, every year.  It induces extreme consumerism, thrives on fashion trends, and on generation of massive waste, most of which is not biodegradable, but accumulates and – yes, influences our ambiance, living conditions – and eventually being part of a holistic world, also influences the climate.

We are living in a throw-away society, driven by an industrial apparatus that uses obsolescence as a tool for consumerism and growth, to generate more profit, no matter how much more non-renewable resources will have to be sacrificed and wasted – ending up as waste, rotting away, polluting the air we breathe, the soil we use to grow our food and the water – the all-important water, without which no life is possible.

To slow down and eventually stop the rapid decline of our existence on this lovely and generous planet, we ALL have to contribute in solidarity to PEACE. A life in peace is a sine qua non for improving our planet’s environment and thereby our sheer living conditions, quality of life, and foremost to bring about more societal equality, less poverty a better distribution of wealth. All of this requires a massive awakening, an awakening towards a consciousness that is immune to egocentricity to fake propaganda that is 180 degrees opposite to the current selfie-culture.

In the 1950s, I’m old enough to remember, we wrote letters to our friends and relatives, shopped in corner grocery stores, bought beverages in recycled glass bottles, filled our staple food from bulk containers into recycled paper bags, and wrapped fresh vegetables into newspapers (not plastic), went to public phone booths to call our girlfriends, walked, or biked to school, and if at all, our parents had small cars, no SUVs, prepared our sandwiches for school, used the same cloths for years, talked with each other eye-to-eye, enjoyed nature.

Today, nature is the same in the city or the countryside, because we stumble through nature wherever we go watching the little screen of an obsolescence disposable smartphone, with which we chat, smile and also make some phone calls. Then, in the post WWII fifties, our lives were more modest and happier. Then, we consumed less than what Mother Earth could sustainably provide us with. In the 1960s we started exceeding that threshold. Today, we, in the west, use three to four times what nature can give us (Africa about 0.6) and that for sure will not go on forever.

Perhaps we have to think about jumping forward to a life style of the fifties and that consciously and conscientiously – and we won’t have to worry about 350-ppm CO2 as the limit for sustainable climate, because it will happen naturally and climate change will continue to happen naturally, as it always did for 4 billion years of our planet’s existence and never bothered us. And most importantly, we have to learn to consciously remind ourselves that we are a solidary peaceful society, and we have to consciously disconnect from MSM, turn off our ears to the ever blaring and lying media propaganda lyrics. Consciousness is our integrity and base for social cohesiveness.

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO